Everything you need to know about engineered hardwood flooring

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By Jenny Kennedy

No other flooring type can hold a candle to hardwood’s breathtaking warmth and character. However, discerning homeowners shopping for their renovation may have their hearts set on hardwood flooring only to discover something called engineered hardwood. Fear not! The benefits of engineered hardwood may surprise you!

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about engineered hardwood before getting overwhelmed by the flooring showroom.

What is engineered hardwood?

Yes, engineered hardwood flooring is still natural hardwood, but with a twist. Rather than the standard solid ¾-inch tongue-and-groove original hardwood, engineered hardwood uses a veneer top layer ranging from 3mm to 7mm thick, which is applied to several counter-glued plywood layers for stability.

Let’s explain the plywood core further. Each layer is glued down using specialized adhesives but running in the opposite direction than the one before. This method is called lamination, and the purpose is when each board reacts to humidity, it can’t expand or contract as much. The result is a push-pull effect that minimizes the flooring’s natural propensity for movement.

Not all engineered hardwood are created equal, and you should be cautious of manufacturing processes and quality. For example, Fuzion Flooring carries a FloorScore certification for all its flooring products.

Morgan Kovachis from Fuzion Flooring elaborates: “This means that products are tested for three individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions (including formaldehyde) to ensure we deliver a safe product in your home.”

Solid hardwood versus engineered hardwood

The good news is that no matter which flooring you choose, you can still select the following wood types:

  • Ash
  • Maple (with and without heavy graining)
  • White and red oak
  • Walnut
  • Cherry
  • Hickory
  • Birch
  • Exotic (bamboo, acacia, tigerwood, etc.)

Yet, each is fabricated and installed differently. Let’s compare.

Solid hardwood

It uses solid premium hardwood species up to ¾-of-an-inch (19mm) thickness. It may be nailed or glued in place depending on the type of subfloor, and fits together with a tongue-and-groove locking mechanism. However, it requires an expansion gap on all sides, as it will expand and contract according to the home’s humidity levels.

Homeowners must install a humidifier and dehumidifier to maintain optimal moisture content throughout the year. Solid hardwood flooring may be refinished repeatedly by sanding, re-staining, and reapplying a protective wear layer (clear coating.) Yet, there is a significant risk of irreversible damage should water be left sitting on the surface or in the case of flooding.

Pricing is at a premium. As a result, you are effectively paying for every millimetre of valuable wood— even though you’ll never utilize it.

Engineered hardwood

It uses premium hardwood species in the top layer, consisting of 3mm to 7mm thickness, and a plywood body with a total thickness of up to ¾-of-an-inch. It also has a tongue-and-groove locking system and can be left floating or glued down. An expansion gap is also recommended; however, engineered hardwood doesn’t expand or contract as much due to the counter-glued plywood core.

Depending on the top layer thickness, it may be refinished once or possibly more using the same refinishing techniques. When you consider how often people refinish hardwood floors, once or twice is sufficient to extend the flooring’s lifespan.

Engineered hardwood is also less susceptible to damage from sitting water if quickly removed; however, it is still likely to become damaged from flooding. Additionally, installing a humidifier and dehumidifier is strongly recommended to manage the home’s moisture levels.

While pricing is still on the high end, it is more reasonable than solid hardwood while still getting the beauty of hardwood floors.

How sustainable is engineered hardwood?

The truth is deforestation is a global problem and one that is getting a lot of attention from conservationists. Manufacturers realized that sustainability was crucial to meeting demand while also protecting the environment, especially for highly sought-after exotic woods.

Two things happened: Tree farming and the development of engineered hardwood.

Tree farming prevented the deforestation of wild resources while, at the same time, maximizing the output from each tree. So, instead of thicker, solid wood boards, flooring manufacturers create thinner veneers that use less premium material while utilizing plywood made from wood remnants. The result is more ethical hardwood flooring without unnecessary waste or environmental devastation.

Environmentally ethical flooring manufacturers make additional strides to prevent deforestation. The Fuzion team has partnered with the One Tree Planted environmental charity. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization on a mission to help the environment by planting trees.

“When you order your engineered hardwood flooring from us, you are helping to reforest the world one tree at a time.”

The benefits of engineered hardwood

As you can tell, there are many advantages of engineered wood flooring, including:

  • Stain options - Engineered hardwood allows for more variation in stain colour depth and tones.
  • Price - It is less expensive than solid hardwood flooring.
  • Weight - Engineered hardwood is less heavy than solid, making it less load-bearing when installed over floor joists.
  • Longevity - Engineered hardwood is stronger and less susceptible to humidity fluctuations, making it a worthy long-term investment.
  • Eco-friendly - It has less of an environmental impact than solid hardwood.
  • Options - You can choose different sheens, wear layer types, patterns, widths, and overall thicknesses to suit your home and personal preferences.

While you still have to deal with scratches and specific cleaning instructions, your engineered hardwood floor is a beautiful addition to your home and helps to increase your property value.

Buying a reputable engineered hardwood brand

Not every engineered hardwood flooring is created equal, and relying on quality and craftsmanship is essential to your floor’s longevity. For over 16 years, Fuzion Flooring has provided superior, environmentally conscious flooring products at affordable prices. As a family-run company, it understands the significance of using safe and reliable materials while enhancing the esthetic of your home with incomparable engineered hardwood.

“Our flooring is safely sourced and responsibly harvested. Environmental sustainability is not just a goal – it's a core value. We're proud to be a Canadian company and even prouder of our environmental initiatives,” says Morgan Kovachis.

View the Fuzion Virtual Showroom and select the perfect engineered flooring today. Have questions or need help finding a retailer? Contact Fuzion online now!

. . . . .

Watch the renovation journey unfold at ready-set-reno.ca

In today’s pandemic-era environment, world-wide supply chain issues and construction delays are a reality, so plan your renovation well and be prepared. As things get underway, we’ll be sharing exciting before, during and after content including a video series featuring top experts, and you’ll be able to virtually tour the project at various stages of completion.

Photo: Fuzion Flooring, Castello-Caspian

Jenny Kennedy of Kennedy Literary Agency provides written copy and content for the design-build industry and is the author of “Launch into Interior Design.”

Ready Set Reno
Ready Set Reno
Ready Set Reno

A Renovation Journey. Join us for a continuing series as we bring a relatively untouched, tired-looking 1960's builder's-box bungalow into the 21st century. ready-set-reno.ca

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